Introduction: $.05 Toy Hovercraft / Helicopter

Picture of $.05 Toy Hovercraft / Helicopter

This instructable will show you how to make a simple toy hovercraft for small children. It is suitable for daycare projects, science projects (aerodynamics and gyroscopes) as well as general fun. This is a project can be built by small children since it requires no cutting.

Step 1: What You Will Need.

Picture of What You Will Need.

2 - Styrofoam cups of the same size (8 oz or 16 oz)
8" or 21cm - Masking tape
4 - Medium rubber bands

Step 2: If You Build It ... It Will Fly ...

Picture of If You Build It ... It Will Fly ...

Take the length of tape and tape the bottom of the cups together. Now loop the rubber bands together drawing the knot closed firmly. Repeat with each rubber band until they form a chain.

Step 3: Here's the Wind-up, and the Pitch!

Picture of Here's the Wind-up, and the Pitch!

Wind the bands around the middle of the cup using medium tightness. Winding it too tight will cause the cups to collapse. I recommend winding over the cups and coming out underneath. This method gives me a better launch, but feel free to experiment.

Step 4: Have Fun!

Picture of Have Fun!

When you are ready to launch, hold the cups between your thumb and index finger with the first digit of your finger inside the loop of the bands.
Next release your thumb and pull your hand away like you would a top. It will hover for a few seconds and slowly descend to the ground.
Timing of the release and pull is important for a good flight. If the first couple of flights don't do so well, keep practicing. You will get the hang of it in no time at all.
This toy can be played with indoors as well as outside. The picture below was of one launched out of a 2nd floor window. Enjoy!


dorkpunch (author)2012-01-30
Sweet!  Built one and tried it out with my kids, they didnt quite get it but loved watching it "hover".  Had my 8 yr old shoot a video of me flying it for you- pretty poor quality but you get the idea. 

Hoopajoo (author)dorkpunch2012-01-30

AWESOME!!! Hope your kids and you have fun playing with it!

scribble hero (author)2014-07-31

thats pretty cool and btw your son is a better filmer than most 8 year olds

hoohooco (author)2013-05-30

wow! it works?

TN777 (author)2013-01-17

I am SOOOO going to use this when I babysit....

laser-show-15 (author)2013-01-01

In the first picture I thought you magically made it stay on the wall

Encik_Google (author)2012-10-11

interesting and cheap!!

Plo Koon (author)2012-03-15

i'll try to make it!

cool knex13 (author)2012-02-29


dorkpunch (author)2012-01-31

Okay... So I got to "experimenting" with this and was just going to post some things here, but I got a little out of hand. I ended up building a bigger version of this that was a little different, so I made my own instructable referencing this one. I also dug up some more info on the Magnus Effect. You can see it here: The 50 CENT Hovercraft  

kelseymh (author)2012-01-30

This is a great, and deceptively simple, project! If you're still around five years after posting it, it would be really awesome if you could add a step (or even just a paragraph in the intro) on the aerodynamics behind it.

As someone else posted, it's clearly driven by the Magnus effect, but I think having a description in the content itself would be beneficial, especially for people wanting to implement it in a classroom environment.

pgrassia (author)2012-01-30

Very nice and simple. If I'm not mistaken this uses the magnus effect to get some lift, hence the need for lightweight material. As well a textured surface is needed (like the surface of your golf/tennis ball)

jbrecken (author)2012-01-30

Could this toy be called a kind of diabolo?

jabujavi (author)2012-01-30

Please put a video!

Starsghost (author)2011-08-07

wait, i just read the whole thing

Starsghost (author)2011-08-07


nathanzhang (author)2008-08-10

Kids, this is definitely more productive than HACKING. Please do this instead of messing around with other people's webcams and/or changing the wallpaper of your nemesis' computer.

Remember the days when hacking something, meant taking an axe or a pick and trying to get something off the ground?

golden snake (author)nathanzhang2008-09-03

yes but some people think HACKING is funner lol

zack247 (author)golden snake2010-03-20

you may have just given me an idea that has to do with my enemies computer and the fact that he blurted out it has no antivirus. if i only knew how to hack...

dragonsniper (author)zack2472011-02-16


CaseBoy (author)2009-10-27

 can you post a vid??

yanyan (author)2007-07-15

I couldn't find styrofoam cups so i tried it with paper cups instead and it flew like a ...cow. Is this because of the smootheness of the paper cups, the weight, or my own shoddy technique?

Hoopajoo (author)yanyan2007-07-15

I think it is a combination of weight and texture. I tried it once with plastic cups and it flew like a lead blimp.

Hey! Mythbusters just proved that a lead baloon can fly

How thin was the lead? 1 nm?

dombeef (author)rollingstoner3572008-12-23


knex_mepalm (author)2009-09-21

Totally Wrong Man

It matters little for in a world of which we live in , because we have evolved into such a time where we may be allowed not to type proffesionally, as we may spell as we wish yet some belive we should just type better, others can not understand you so they ask of you to type and spell better. Other wordzspeakin you dont have to lolz..
bold is wrong

AznPanda (author)knex_mepalm2009-10-07

elloo uh sad thing is i dont even remember typing that comment lulz
uhh seems like i angered you D: sorries

knex_mepalm (author)AznPanda2009-10-08

Not relly. Sorries :'(

AznPanda (author)knex_mepalm2009-10-07

oh yah ima delete the comment that i made before seems rather mean of me D: sooo *Deletes* :D

LOLOLOL totally right, man.


ad410800 (author)2006-11-25

this thing suks! it is mor like a toy for a 2 year old,

disco diva (author)ad4108002006-12-13

you spell like my 2 year old

dombeef (author)disco diva2008-12-23

lol yeah

toollvr (author)ad4108002007-03-15

All this negativity is making my nuts hurt.

paper warrior (author)ad4108002006-11-30

2yr. olds are small children, idiot.

bestbballrebounder1 (author)2008-10-07

(removed by community by request)

golden snake (author)2008-09-03

eww this is the INTERNETZ why does it matter how you spell

jasonckoval (author)2008-06-02

Folks, this is a nice project designed to keep little kids busy at *something* that they might get a kick out of. I cannot understand why so many of you feel the need to bash stuff like this. Hoopajo, thanks for contributing this, I will use it with my little ones. It is a clever demonstration of the concept of "circulation" and its relation to aerodynamic lift. Look up "Flettner Rotor" if you are really interested.

matt7230 (author)2008-04-15

how do you *launch* this!!!

matt7230 (author)2008-04-15

How do you lunch this!!!

Jack Daniels (author)2006-10-19

3am last night this was the most entertaining thing at my work lol not compute

altmaker (author)instructa-fan2008-03-24

oh cmonn we know what he means, be nice :P

instructa-fan (author)altmaker2008-03-24

no, he could mean 3am this morning, or 3pm last night. I wanna know which. well then again, why would you be at work at 3 o' clock in the morning? O_o

altmaker (author)instructa-fan2008-04-08

Actually, working in a club, yes, i would be working until 3am :|

i ment 3am in the morning sheesh....

About This Instructable




Bio: USAF - Spec. Communications, Telemetry & Data Networking, Microwave Networks, Aeronautics Interests: Metal working, Electronics and Botany (especially wild edible plants, "Feed the world with weeds") More »
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